The mad Dutch drummer. I’d seen him some years before, and he was clearly nuts – playing a collapsing drum kit with alternating feet (replete with army boots) on the snare drum, and sometimes a drum kit made of cheese. The first part of the Vortex gig had Bennink team up on snare drum with Terry Day in a drum duet. This was fun, if unspectacular. The second set was a different ball game entirely. This was the Bennick Trio, with Simon Toldam on piano and Joachim Badenhorst on winds. Bennick played ‘just’ snare drum, although this does no justice to the man’s incredible array of skill, ideas, and dynamics – he achieved extremes of loud and quiet that I’d thought impossible. For a while he played with green garden sticks – pointing them elfishly at the audience and grinning insanely; he played swing time, no time, frenetically, peacefully, with absolute abandon and complete control. He played the venue’s walls, tables, chairs, and his own mouth. The trio were energetic and noisy as hell – there was no escaping their rage. But the last tune was a distillation of beauty, purveying a purity and intensity that left us all stunned.

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